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Canadian law schools trade moot courts for Indigenous land-based learning

From a Macleans Magazine article: There are many nêhiyaw—or Cree—ways to hunt moose. There are very old required legal teachings, each passed down through families and communities, learned through the patient experience of preparing to take a life. Just as these ways are dependent on the repetition of footsteps on prairies and through muskeg and bush, they also rest on the recollection of songs and stories, and on the guidance of ceremonies. According to some older Cree legal practices, the hunt starts long before the bush. It is initiated through offerings and dreams as those who intend to hunt begin to come to terms with harming a relative. All of this is entering into a relationship of reciprocity. All of this is continuing a relationship with Cree law. It is a practice of wahkotowin, or the principles that govern our relationships with each other, including those with our animal relations. Proper adherence to these laws teaches how to respect the moose’s life and how to continue on with our lives in a proper way.

Once a moose has given its life, there are many Cree ways to prepare moose. The initial frenzy of dressing a moose (skinning it, removing its organs and guts, quartering and removing the meat) dissipates and gives way to the slow, hard work of making the most of the life you just took. You have become obligated. Making use of the meat and the organs is the easier and exciting work. The bones are harder. They can be either cracked open for marrow, filled with grease from the fatty parts of the moose or saved for soup. In the very old ways, they were converted into tools for scraping. The moose hide—seemingly growing heavier by the hour with your responsibilities—must be stretched out until it is almost as taut as a drum. The tighter it is, the easier the scraping becomes. Scraping moose hide. Tough work. The older ones have developed a hidden strength for this hardest work, a strength they have been gifted through hours of clutching and grooving scrapers on rough rawhide, convincing tufts of hair that it is okay to fall away. Eventually it relents and gives way to its new life, maybe as a drum or a pair of moccasins.

Read more: Canadian law schools trade moot courts for Indigenous land-based learning

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